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Acting GOP

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The Enemies List.

“Mr. Band, who declined to comment, is hardly alone in tallying those considered to have crossed the former candidate or the former president in recent months by supporting Mr. Obama. As the Obama bandwagon has swelled, so have the lists of people Clinton loyalists regard as some variation of ‘ingrate,’ ‘traitor’ or ‘enemy,’ according to the associates and campaign officials, who would speak only on condition of anonymity.” They’re making a list, and checking it twice… Via Blackberry, Clinton flunkies draw up a post-primary enemies list. It ain’t politics without grudges, I guess.

The Lesson of the Ring.

Well, it’s sometimes seemed to have more endings than Return of the King. But, tonight, it looks like the primary season is finally, really, truly at an end, with Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois our duly chosen Democratic nominee. In the days and weeks ahead, it’ll behoove all of us, however hard, to let the primary bygones be bygones and to help reunite the party against our real foe, John McCain and the GOP. But, before we let the healing begin, I do have one more word to say about the Clintons, who above all else this campaign season has proven the truth of the old adage: “Choose your enemies wisely, for you will become them.

Now, I’m not going to recite the full litany of grievances against the Clintons’ behavior of late one more time. I’d say that ground is already pretty well-covered in the election archives. But I will say this: It has become increasingly fashionable in the press and elsewhere to esteem Sen. Clinton — regardless of her other political transgressions — as gutsy, tenacious, a fighter. Say what you will about her methods, this line of thinking goes, she goes there. She does what needs to be done. In fact, argues otherwise discerning political observers such as friend and colleague David Greenberg, she is exactly the kind of fighter the Left has said they’ve been looking for. (Of course, she and her husband have been AWOL when it counted over the past seven years, but that’s neither here nor there in this view.)

Well, simply put, this is all hooey. Sen. Clinton’s behavior over the past six months and change has been exactly the wrong lesson for Democrats to draw from the politics of the last decade. I’ve said it here several times before, but, in a nutshell, here’s why:

You don’t wear the ring. You destroy the ring.

Or, in other words, the key to beating the Republicans is not by acting Republican. It’s by rising above their tendentious garbage and working to restore reason and sanity to our politics. At the very least, a Democratic nominee for president shouldn’t validate the base tactics of the GOP by wallowing in their wretchedness. For what shall it profit a woman, if she shall gain the whole world, and lose her own soul?

Nevertheless, seemingly blinded by ambition, Sen. Clinton very quickly chose the wrong path. (In the place of a Dumb Lord, we would have a Queen…) She embraced the Rove playbook and dabbled in Al Qaeda hysteria. She validated John McCain and threatened to obliterate Iran. She called her opponent elitist and derided the “elite opinion” of the reality-based community. She played nice with Limbaugh, Scaife, and FOX. She flirted dangerously with the race card and lauded hard-working whites. She, for all intent and purposes, became the Republican candidate in the Democratic primary. She, and her husband, became part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

To repeat something I said after Wisconsin in February, the night when Sen. Obama’s primary victory basically became mathematically inexorable: “If you’ll forgive the lapse into LotR metaphors, the treason of Saruman, once the noblest and wisest of our order, is almost subdued. The Battle for Middle-Earth is only beginning.” So, as we move forward after tonight, I’ll try as much as anyone to tone down the internecine fighting around here, and start focusing fire on our true opponents over on the Right. (That is provided, of course, that Sen. Clinton chooses to diminish, go into the West, and remain a Democrat.)

But let’s also draw the appropriate lesson from the Clinton candidacy of 2008. The Clinton era is over, and this general election is now a chance for we as Dems “to show our quality.” We are not Dubya-Rove Republicans, and adopting their scorched-earth idiocies in a “tenacious” attempt to get elected is most assuredly the road to political, civic, and spiritual ruin.

Death Wish.

“My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don’t understand it.” A Freudian slip, or just the Mother of all Gaffes? Classy to the end, Sen. Clinton, perhaps inadvertently, blurts out her Vulture Strategy. Now, that should go over like gangbusters. Ugh, go away already.

Update: “Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, reacting to Mrs. Clinton’s comment through a spokeswoman, said only, ‘This is beyond the pale.’

Update 2: In a special comment tonight, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann blew a gasket over Clinton’s remarks, and offered a concise and damning litany of the ridiculousness Sen. Clinton has subjected us to over these past few months. To be honest, I think Olbermann is pretty far over the top here. That being said, the riff beginning at 7:13 is very worthwhile.

Don’t Cry for Me, Archie Bunker.

You know, just when I thought Sen. Clinton realized she had been decisively beaten, and thus that it was time to beg off and let the healing begin, we get garbage like this: With West Virginia and Kentucky on the docket (and no more sizable African-American populations left on the calendar), Clinton toys dangerously with the race card yet again. “‘I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on,’ she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article ‘that found how Sen. Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.’” Uh, riiiight. Because, as we all know, black Americans aren’t hard-working at all, but rather “shiftless” and “indolent.” “There’s a pattern emerging here.” That there is, Sen. Clinton, and your campaign seems to be on the wrong side of it.

I get it — She was probably trying to make the same old point about her support among the white working class, and for whatever reason it came out disastrously wrong and inadvertently (I hope) conflated white and hard-working. But, even allowing for an unfortunate gaffe, this riff further illustrates the Clinton campaign’s troubling penchant for denigrating African-American votes as less important than those of white folk. Simply put, they’re not — a vote is a vote is a vote, and Obama has more of them, eggheads, African-Americans, you name it. Nor do I agree with the dubious contention that white working-class voters who have backed Clinton in the primary will go for McCain in the general en masse. As I said here, when it comes to primaries and generals, we’re talking apples and oranges. Past performance is no indicator of future success, or failure.

Reality Bites.

“I’m not going to put my lot in with economists.” As TPM noted, we seem to have finally reached the point where there are “no more sharks left to jump. For alas, Sen. Clinton’s final, fraying tether to the reality-based community (and my general election vote, not that she’ll be getting that far anyway) gave up its last this weekend, as she — in defiance of her usual m.o. and very much in the manner of Dubya and the GOP — deemed universal opposition to her gas tax pander to be merely a figment of “elite opinion. (She’s also doubled down on her anti-Obama gas tax ads.) As Robert Reich noted: “In case you’ve missed it, we now have a president who doesn’t care what most economists think. George W. Bush doesn’t even care what scientists think. He rejects all experts who disagree with his politics. This has led to some extraordinarily stupid policies.” (Clinton partisan Paul Krugman, also a member of the elite-economist cabal, has yet to weigh in on his being cast down as an enemy of the people.)

As it turns out, one of the salt-of-the earth proles at the event (self-identified as an Obama voter making less than $25,000 a year) called Clinton out to her face for this blatant idiocy: “‘I do feel pandered to when you talk about suspending the gas tax,’ the woman said, adding: ‘Call me crazy but I actually listen to economists because I think they know what they’ve studied.’” Clearly, this woman will be requiring significant reeducation. “‘How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.’ ‘Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.’” (Give Clinton credit: Her campaign has been a travesty, but it’s been great fodder for Orwell references around here.)

In any case, regarding the big picture: Unfortunately for earlier hopes that we’d be done May 6, it’s looking like tomorrow will almost assuredly bring a split, with NC for Obama and IN for Clinton. (That is, unless Zogby has finally broke out of its slump this cycle.) Meaning, of course, that Clinton will be even more mathematically eliminated. And yet, in all likelihood, we’ll slog on to June 3. Yay. (With that in mind, each side picked up another super today: Kalyn Free of OK for Obama and Theresa Morelli of Dems Abroad for Clinton. But as Morelli only counts for 1/2 a vote, that’s another 1/2-vote pick up for Obama.)

Update: make that two and a half: Obama picks up two more MD supers, Michael Cryor and Lauren Dugas-Glover. And it sounds like some of Clinton’s CA supers are reconsidering their options.

Update 2: Apparently, economists still mattered in 1992.

The Petrol Pander.

“I don’t think it’s brilliant economics; unfortunately, it may be good politics. The smart people say ‘It’s stupid,’ and the people who aren’t as schooled say ‘At least it will do something for me,’…I don’t know that anyone connects the dots: that there have been a series of politically expedient decisions…that have added up to an economic picture that is not at all rosy and in fact fairly disastrous.” In an A-1 story this morning, the WP joins the recent general calumny against the Clinton-McCain gas tax cut (which Clinton is now campaigning heavily on in IN and NC — Obama is now pushing back on TV.) “‘You are just going to push up the price of gas by almost the size of the tax cut,’ said Eric Toder, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center in Washington.” Indeed, it’s apparently such a dumb idea that even diehard Clinton cheerleader Paul Krugman is forced to concede thus. Of course, the reality of the situation hasn’t stopped Bill Clinton from entering full-Pander Bear mode on the issue.

Update: Clinton doubles down, and introduces legislation promoting McCain’s lousy idea in the Senate. Responded Obama: “It’s a Shell game, literally.”

Weathermen Blowback. | Mr. Wu.

“In an interview yesterday, Hillary — whose connection to President Clinton’s 2001 sentence commutations for two members of the Weather Underground has become an issue since she tried to raise questions about Obama’s acquaintance with another ex-Weatherman — told ‘Inside Edition’ that she ‘didn’t know anything about’ the 2001 clemency case…If it’s true, it means that she got the worst briefings in the world when she was running for Senate in 2000 and the clemency issue was hot in Rockland County, and it means that Chuck Schumer didn’t even bother to mention the issue to his fellow NY senator-elect/ First Lady after promising the widows of two dead cops to fight against one of the clemencies.” Following her recent attempt to make hay from the Weathermen, Sen. Clinton gets caught in another obvious lie. Oops.

Meanwhile, following on the two he picked up yesterday, Sen. Obama scores another superdelegate in Oregon rep David Wu. “‘We need new policies both at home and abroad,’ Wu said in a statement. ‘Like Americans, the international community wants to see real change in America and I believe that Senator Obama embodies that change.’” As you probably know, Sen. Clinton needs the superdelegates to break 2-1 her way from now herein for the comeback math to make any sense at all. So, since Pennsylvania (1 for Clinton, 3 for Obama), she’s already 5 down on where she needs to be.

And they were all alike.

First we had Senator Clinton adopting various Hail Mary Rovianisms, which have been well recorded here, including but not nearly limited to an ad featuring Osama Bin Laden just this past week. Then Bill went on the Rush Limbaugh show. Then Sen. Clinton played nice with Richard Mellon Scaife, architect of the “vast right-wing conspiracy,” for his endorsement. And now we have this:

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

At long last, Pennsylvania.

Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood, when blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud.” Well, actually, it was only six weeks ago, just after Mississippi. (It only seems like a lifetime.) Still, I posted then, following Al Giordano at Rural Votes, to beware Pennsylvania tunnel vision, as it’s a state tailor-made for Clinton’s demographic strengths. Six long, miserable weeks later, after Jeremiah Wright and The Speech and Tuzla snipers and the Bitter pill, we’ve finally made it to PA Day, and what I wrote then still holds true. Given the polls and the probable Limbaugh shenanigans in Pennsyltucky, Clinton will almost assuredly win the Keystone State by double digits tonight, and yet still won’t amass enough delegates to make a bit of difference in the final decision. And, because the media still won’t call the race (and, indeed, resent even the slightest implication that they’re lazy and f**king pathetic at their line of work), we will grimly slog on to May 6th, watching enviously as McCain and the GOP dance their happy jig of Dem self-immolation. (Don’t get me wrong: I still think Obama will trounce McCain thoroughly in November. But it’s going to be much harder than it ever needed to be.)

Was that magical night in Iowa really less than four months ago? It seems since then that we Obama-leaning political junkies are being punished by the Clinton campaign for the sin of putting too much faith in the process, and have been consigned to a neverending Purgatory of endless lowballs and trifling media idiocies. In a different world, I might have been flabbergasted by Clinton shoehorning Pearl Harbor and Bin Laden into a political ad against a fellow Democrat. But, at this late date, did anyone really expect anything less? Give it a few more weeks and the Clinton campaign will likely be regaling us with D.W. Griffith and guys in blackface. And it will still be over. Update: By way of Dangerous Meta, Sen. Clinton also attempted to recertify her cajones this morning by threatening to “obliterate” Iran. Dubya much, Senator?

At any rate, if you are of the Pennsylvanian persuasion, please consider voting for Barack Obama today. Let’s get focused on our real opponent, already.

The Wages of Fear.

“Clinton is viewed as ‘honest and trustworthy’ by just 39 percent of Americans, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, compared with 52 percent in May 2006. Nearly six in 10 said in the new poll that she is not honest and trustworthy.” Who’s bitter now? A new poll finds that a solid majority of voters now believes Sen. Clinton is dishonest. “And now, compared with Obama, Clinton has a deep trust deficit among Democrats, trailing him by 23 points as the more honest, an area on which she once led both Obama and John Edwards.” In other words, all the shenanigans of the past few months seem to have made her unelectable. Oops.

Dean sets a date. | The new new standard.

“‘I think it would be nice to have this all done by July 1,’ Dean said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program. ‘If we can do it sooner than that, that’s all the better.’” Howard Dean sets a date of July 1 at the latest for the primary election to end, meaning there’ll thankfully be no convention floor fight. I’m still thinking May 6 would be more preferable.

Meanwhile, Bill Clinton drops the electoral vote standard (for now) and picks an even more unwieldy statistic by which to judge the candidates: “”Right now, among all the primary states, believe it or not, Hillary’s only 16 votes behind in pledged delegates,’ said the former president, ‘and she’s gonna wind up with the lead in the popular vote in the primary states. She’s gonna wind up with the lead in the delegates [from primary states].‘” (The 18 caucus states, you may remember, don’t matter.) Clinton also went on to do more stumping for John McCain, calling him a “moderate” who “has given about all you can give for this country without dyin’ for it.

Easter Weekend: McCarthy, Bosnia, Judas.

Hey all. Well, I’m sure many of you are as sick of reading about this lingering primary season as I’m getting to be about writing on it. At this point, my feelings about the Clinton campaign and the dwindling band of dead-enders lingering around her failed candidacy have gone from disbelief to disgust to a sort of exhausted aversion: It’s unsightly and hard to watch, and not only because so many Clinton supporters online have been leaving the reality-based community in droves. Like a fatally wounded snake, the campaign is still writhing, hissing, and lashing out by reflex, seemingly unaware that its time came and went weeks ago.

But, the news is the news, and I did promise to keep following it. So, if you, like me, took a break over the Easter weekend, here is the most recent litany of outrages. (Of course, at this late date, you’ll probably only find these outrageous if you haven’t been following along for the past few months…)

  • I think it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interest of this country.” Have you no sense of decency, Mr. President, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency? Back in action after his “mugging”, Bill Clinton suggested that only a race between his wife and John McCain would include two patriots, and only by picking Clinton as the Democratic nominee can the country avoid “all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics.” [See it here.] (I presume he’s talking about race, since I seem to remember President Clinton being personally responsible for “other stuff” intruding on politics back in the day, so much so that it ended up consuming a year of my life.)

    Obama supporter Gen. Tony McPeak has been taking some flak for likening this questioning of Obama’s patriotism to the antics of Senator Joe McCarthy, but, let’s be honest, what else would you call it? It’s definitely in the same ballpark. Since time immemorial, arguing against one’s opponent’s patriotism has been the last refuge of a scoundrel, and as sure a sign as any that a political campaign is wheezing its last. And Clinton, of course, knows this firsthand, since he was on the receiving end of a similar smear in 1992. In short, the president has shamed himself and his legacy yet again.

  • There was a saying around the White House that if a place was too small, too poor, or too dangerous, the president couldn’t go, so send the First Lady…I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.” As she’s been doing with SCHIP, NAFTA, FMLA, and Northern Ireland, we already know Sen. Clinton has been grotesquely exaggerating about her trip to Bosnia in 1996. Well, now she’s been caught in an outright lie. (A four-Pinocchio whopper, no less.) Video has surfaced, and not only was there no sniper fire at the airport, there was a greeting ceremony for Sen. Clinton…and Chelsea, because if a place is really small, poor, or dangerous, apparently the First Daughter gets to come along. At this ceremony, then-First Lady Clinton not only waded through the usual throng of soldiers standing at attention and bored bureaucratic functionaries, but gamely faced down the threat of a little girl offering flowers. Grisly stuff, to be sure. Update: Howard “Ken Starr” Wolfson says Clinton “misspoke,” while more Bosnia exaggerations emerge.

  • Mr. Richardson’s endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic.” This one hits a little closer to home, but anyway: Clinton supporter “till the last dog dies” and my former employer James Carville calls Bill Richardson’s endorsement an “act of betrayal, and actually likens him to Judas Iscariot (making the Clintons…uh, Jesus? Perhaps Brutus, Benedict Arnold, or Lando Calrissian would’ve worked better.) In Carville’s defense, I’ll bet dollars to donuts he meant this mainly as a joke (and, as he recently editorialized in the FT, he’s not one for the overparsing of political speech anyway.) That being said, since Carville’s a big boy, I’m sure he can weather Richardson’s pointed riposte just as well: “I’m not going to get in the gutter like that. And you know, that’s typical of many of the people around Senator Clinton. They think they have a sense of entitlement to the presidency.” That they do, Governor, that they do.

    I’m not at all surprised Carville is “Stickin’” with the Clinton campaign well past its expiration date — It’s his nature, and you can’t teach an old Clinton yellow-dog new tricks. But he’s dead wrong on this one, and given that he more than anyone else should be able to see the writing on the wall, politically speaking, he really should be working to bring the party back together, not continuing to poison the well with badly thought-out religious metaphors. (And if saying thus make me a “Judas” in his eyes, well, so be it…although I’d prefer to think of myself as a Jack Burden.)

    Update: “I think the statement had the desired effect. It was what I said.Carville talks Judas on CNN, and, as I suspected, he seemed to think it just all part of the game: “‘I doubt if Governor Richardson and I will be terribly close in the future,’ he said, but ‘I’ve had my say…I got one in the wheelhouse and I tagged him.’” What Carville seems to be ignoring here is that, tag or not, the game is already over, and Obama is the one going to the Series. So it’s a little late to be throwing the chin music.

  • Preach it, Keith.

    “You are campaigning as if Barack Obama were the Democrat and you were the Republican…Voluntarily or inadvertently, you are still awash in this filth.” One part Edward Murrow, one part Howard Beale, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann speaks his mind on the Clinton campaign, Geraldine Ferraro, and the kitchen sink.

    And, while I’m embedding video, these merry pranksters made a similar point today, albeit with more snark and less dudgeon. Vinegar or honey, they’re all speaking the truth.

    Pelosi: No Effin Way.

    “I think that the Clinton administration (sic) has fairly ruled that out by proclaiming that Senator McCain would be a better Commander in Chief than Obama. I think that either way is impossible.’Sinbad aside, you really don’t want to tick off Speaker Pelosi. Calling a joint Obama-Clinton ticket “impossible” in an interview with New England Cable News today, Speaker Pelosi makes her displeasure obvious with the Clinton campaign for hyping McCain over the Senator from Illinois. “I wanted to be sure I didn’t leave any ambiguity.” Play with matches, Sen. Clinton, you were due to get burned. Update: Lest anyone missed the import, Pelosi says it again: “I do think we will have a dream team, it just won’t be those two names…Take it from me, that won’t be the ticket.

    And the Horse They Rode in On.

    So, if you’re of the mind that GitM has degraded in quality and become obsessively single-minded since the election season began in earnest, and that I should really just head out to the movies and chill, I apologize. There’s a link about the The Dark Knight just above, and I’ll try to keep the coverage somewhat broader in the weeks ahead. Alas, although the electoral math would seem to make it clear that the race is over — former Clinton flunky Dick Morris is the latest to call it — it would also seem the Clinton campaign is not getting the message, and they’re more than willing to commit the party version of fratricide out of pique. Case in point, this new interview with Newsweek, in which Hillary Clinton actually floats (again) the nuclear option: stealing Obama’s pledged delegates. (“Even elected and caucus delegates are not required to stay with whomever they are pledged to.“) Uh, what? (And caucus delegates are elected delegates, but nice try.)

    So, I’ll be the first to admit that the election season has become more than a little tiring and draining at this point, and the idea of at least seven more weeks of this until Pennsylvania does not bring a smile to my face. But, it’s apparently time to take Fight Club up a notch. When Hillary Clinton and her campaign lie incessantly about her experience, cozy up with hatemongers for cash, try to change the election rules in mid-stream, spew forth readily disprovable idiocies in what seems at this point to be an attempt to hide some ill-gotten gains, and begin pushing John McCain over the presumptive Democratic nominee, she’s going to get called on it. When a guy like Joe Conason, who made a career out of arguing (correctly) that there was really nothing much to Whitewater, then turns around and tries to use the exact same pattern of half-assed insinuation to smear Obama with Tony Rezko (a media tic his Salon colleague Glenn Greenwald had savagely picked apart just two days before), he’s going to get called on it.

    And this talk — by the candidate herself! — of stealing pledged delegates is the last straw. In short, these people need to go. Since the Clintons are not going gracefully, since they seem hell-bent on refusing to respect the rules in this contest, and since, in the naked pursuit of power, they have effectively decided to obliterate their legacy in the Democratic Party and salt the earth around its smoldering remains, there’s nothing else to be done. It’s time to cry havoc, and let slip the blogs of war.

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